I knew I had to read it the moment I laid eyes on the cover, huge watery swaths of yellow and powdery red swooping upward – the tiny painted runner with her long blonde hair flying behind her like the tail of a careering horse. I initially had no idea what the book was about (aside from a girl who ran, naturally), but it didn’t matter.
It used to be that not even touching films could make me cry (Titanic and Tarzan came close, but the brink remained un-breached). Something changed when I watched Pride and Prejudice alone one day — that part at the end when they meet in the field — tears were streaming down my face; it was baffling. My sister (who is in her second year of film school) told me that she prefers watching movies on her own because they are so much more emotional, and I realized with the chirp of a ‘correct’ button that this was the secret in my case. It’s perhaps why I’ve always preferred books, which are so personal: the private co-creative process so apart from television-style consumption, which imposes itself in such a way as to be shared with anyone in the room. Somehow, however, when I read The Girl Who Ran aloud to my daughter and younger son for the first time (at their urgent behest!), this rule of solitary engagement as the marker for emotional ignition fizzled, and I observed the shallow flooding of my eyes and the breathlessness in my voice as we reached the final pages with a twinge of wonder.
It’s not a sad story: something else entirely. The Girl Who Ran is a picture book that I wholeheartedly recommend to adults (as well as to children). Bobbi Gibb was the first Continue reading
I learned a valuable lesson in the spring of 2010; thirty minutes is not long enough between connecting flights. Oh yes, we sprinted through the Texas-sized airport and arrived pink-cheeked and panting just as the plane was boarding, but our luggage wasn’t so lucky. I’ve never missed fresh clothes and deodorant so much than after arriving in the stifling heat of South America with nothing but the same sweaty clothes that I’d sprinted through the airport in. Our accommodations were remote, so if we wanted even a toothbrush, the only option was to hitch a ride on a military-style truck that was off to pick up food and supplies in the nearest town. We bounced violently on the long, seat-belt-less benches as the vehicle rattled along gravel roads, across from two other spontaneous passengers. Half-shouting to hear over the wind gushing through the open back of the tarp-tented truck, I learned that they were sisters, out travelling in celebration of one of the sisters’ thirtieth birthday. I knew right then and there that I wanted to do some travelling with my own sister someday.
But what’s all this got to do with sugar, butter, and flour? I will tell you: Continue reading
This book has been eyeing me for a while (and I do mean the book has been eyeing me, not the other way around). I’ve spotted it peeking out at me from the shelves in an unfamiliar apartment, inconspicuously nestled between discards at other libraries, and discussed in another book that I happened to be reading. I heard it referenced in an (unrelated) TED talk, and I even shelved it once (not so unusual if you work in a library, but still, this book was following me around). Rather than call for a restraining order, I did what any sensible bibliophile would do in this situation; I read the book.
My experience of The Signature of All Things was almost precisely like my experience of watching Stranger Things Season 2 (but entirely disparate in plot, of course). I watched the first half of Stanger Things Season 2 a full week before I watched the second half of it, and during that weeklong intermission, boy, did I love Stanger things. So it was starting out with The Signature of All Things. The first half Continue reading